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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

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POETRY OF PROTEST                          155

"A lone dim lamp in a quiet room;
At the wayside inn a cock crows.
On a traveller's pillow lie unfinished dreams.
Declining moon gathers up its beams.
The morning frost covers the hills like a brocade,
Which sparkles with the pearly dew.
Human toil fills life's endless journey,
Freshened now and then with moments of joy.
Holding the reins in silence,
I thought of the myriad things that had gone by,

"I look back upon those days
When we stopped together at Changan,
Like the two Lus,

Both inspired by the high hopes of youth.
With a thousand words from our pens
And ten thousand volumes in our breasts,
We thought it not difficult to make our Emperor the best.
Whether to serve or to retire
Depends entirely now upon ourselves.
Why not fold our hands in our sleeves and leisurely watch?
May we remain forever in good health
And spend the last years of our lives at ease—
Over a contest of wine!"

It was in Michow, thinking of his absent brother, that he wrote what
is considered the best poem on the mid-autumn by any poet. Critics
say that after this poem was written, all the other poems on the harvest
moon could be well forgotten.

"How rare the moon, so round and clear!

With cup in hand, I ask of the blue sky,
1 do not know in the celestial sphere

What name this festive night goes by?'
I want to fly home, riding the air,
But fear the ethereal cold up there,

The jade and crystal mansions are so high!
Dancing to my shadow,

I feel no longer the mortal tie.

"She rounds the vermilion tower,
Stoops to silk-pad doors,

Shines on those who sleepless lie.
Why does she, bearing us no grudge,

Shine upon our parting, reunion deny ?
But rare is perfect happiness—